by Rainbow Rowell
Georgie and Neal are married with two daughters, Alice and Noomi. For years they’ve stretch themselves to the edge of what their relationship can handle. The bulk of the child-rearing has fallen on to Neal with very little contribution from the work-focused Georgie.
When she backs out of an out-of-town Christmas trip with her family at the last minute to write for a new sitcom, her relationship with her husband hits a wall. When she tries to call her husband later she realizes she's reached him back in 1998, before they were even engaged. She finds herself reevaluating both her marriage and her priorities as she talks with the man she fell in love with so many years ago.
Most of Rowell's books are about the sweet beginnings of relationships. She writes about infatuation, first love, flirtations and fumbling kisses. Landline is a departure from that. We do see the start of Georgie and Neal's relationship, but it's in flashbacks, not as it's happening, so there's no wondering "will they or won't they?"
I love that she dove into the messiness of a real marriage in this book. No, I don't think it's quite as charming or lovable as her other work, but I also think that's okay. I trust Rowell enough as an author at this point that I'm along for the ride no matter what she writes. I had lower expectations for this one because of the reviews I'd already read, but I liked it. Either you can embrace the fact that a phone is letting Georgie talk to her 1998 husband or you can't. For me it worked and I liked it because it was less about the phone than it was about the conversations it allowed Georgie and Neal to have.
BOTTOM LINE: If you love Rowell definitely read this one. Eleanor & Park is still my favorite, but this novel gave her readers a glimpse into how difficult real marriages can be, although we don't all have a magic phone that might let us fix things.